A legendary voice of love, “the funniest woman in the world,” a forefather of Funk, an SNL veteran, the High Priestess of R&B, and the king and queen of the banjo—these are just a few of the 40 highly anticipated acts in the South Orange Performing Arts Center’s 2022-2023 Season.
Experience Grammy winners (Judy Collins, Peabo Bryson, George Porter Jr., Béla Fleck, Paula Cole), genre-defying artists (Sweet Honey in the Rock, Naturally 7, Sons of Serendip, Ann Hampton Callaway & Liz Callaway), five Kids ‘N Family shows and the much-loved Laughs in the Loft series.
“We’re thrilled to say SOPAC is SO Back!” says Beth Fylstra, SOPAC’s CFO and Interim COO. “This season will mark our first full, in-person season since the 2018-2019 Season. Alongside our excitement for these captivating artists is our profound resilience as an organization.”
SOPAC persevered through two and a half years of closures due to Covid-19 and Hurricane Ida remediation before fully reopening the Jennifer and Tony Leitner Performance Hall last spring. The venue has a new stage and orchestra pit, freshly painted walls and modern carpeting throughout the building, including The Herb + Milly Iris Gallery.
“We, quite literally, weathered the storm,” added Fylstra. “This season will be the rainbow we’ve been waiting for. We hope you’ll join us as we return to providing high-quality arts experiences.”
The perfect act to kick off this momentous season? Comedian Ryan Hamilton. The epitome of resilience, Hamilton is back on tour following his recovery from car accident-related injuries. On September 9, he will grace the SOPAC stage with his smile and clean comedic style.
Full Season Lineup
Peabo Bryson, Bettye LaVette and Delfeayo Marsalis
SAT, SEP 10 at 7PM & 9:30PM
Dubbed the King of Balladeers, Peabo Bryson is a two-time Grammy-winning vocalist known for his hit song, “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” with Roberta Flack. This legendary voice of love offers a timeless mix of Pop, Soul and R&B.
George Porter Jr. & Runnin’ Pardners
THU, SEP 15 at 7:30PM
A forefather of Funk, George Porter Jr. is best known as a member of The Meters, the New Orleans-based Grammy-winning R&B group he formed alongside Art “Poppa Funk” Neville, Leo Nocentelli and Joseph Zigaboo Modeliste.
The James Hunter Six
FRI, SEP 23 at 8PM
British soulman James Hunter and his gritty, longstanding backing band bring you a sublime evening of no-nonsense Blues. Given their virtuosity, they have shared the stage with acts as diverse as Allen Toussaint, Sharon Jones and Van Morrison.
Billie & Blue Eyes presented by
John Pizzarelli & Catherine Russell
The Songs of Frank Sinatra & Billie Holiday
SAT, SEP 24 at 8PM
John Pizzarelli and Catherine Russell are a dynamic duo who will transport audiences to the glory days of Jazz with masterful ease, capturing Sinatra’s cool swagger and Holiday’s effortless grace.
Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet
FRI, SEP 30 at 8PM
Acclaimed trombonist, composer and producer Delfeayo Marsalis is known for his “technical excellence, inventive mind and frequent touches of humor” (Los Angeles Times). A New Orleans native, he is the brother of renowned trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.
Bettye LaVette & Raul Midón
FRI, OCT 7 at 8PM
Soul singer-songwriter Bettye LaVette has been called the High Priestess of R&B. Her “pure Blues growl” has earned this Grammy-nominated performer comparisons to Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner. Blind since birth, Raul Midón lives in a world of sound. His tropical groove, silky voice and electric guitar are his signature.
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough!
Valerie Simpson & Friends
Sing Ashford & Simpson
FRI, NOV 11 at 8PM
Valerie Simpson has spent a lifetime writing chart-topping anthems with her late husband Nick Ashford as the entity known as Ashford & Simpson. The duo penned timeless hits such as, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand” and “I’m Every Woman” for Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston and others before embarking on a performing career of their own.
Russell Thompkins Jr. & The New Stylistics
FRI, JAN 20 at 8PM
Russell Thompkins Jr. & The New Stylistics are bringing back falsetto! After a storied more than 40-year career, this Soul group continues to perform their hit R&B ballads, including “You Are Everything” and the Grammy-nominated “You Make Me Feel Brand New.”
New Day, New Tour
SAT, JAN 28 at 8PM
Big, brassy and unapologetically bold. Born in the multicultural melting pot of New York City, the six-piece band pays homage to the New Orleans brass band tradition while incorporating eclectic Rock, Funk, Jazz, Ska, Gospel and EDM. The group’s irresistible groove is led by co-founder Josh Holcomb’s soulful trombone, Daro Behroozi’s soaring sax and Joshua Gawel’s powerful trumpet.
Kathleen Edwards, Chris Smither & Tim O’Brien with Jan Fabricius, and Josh Ritter
David Broza & Trio Havana
SAT, SEP 17 at 8PM
Israeli superstar David Broza is recognized for his dynamic guitar performances and humanitarian efforts. His signature sound is influenced by Spanish Flamenco, American Folk, Rock and poetry.
THU, SEP 22 at 7:30PM
After a musical hiatus and period of profound self-reflection, singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards triumphantly returns with her cloud-grazing voice, skilled strumming and Folk/Country music that confronts life’s challenges yet finds the beauty in it all.
Chris Smither & Tim O’Brien with Jan Fabricius
SAT, OCT 8 at 8PM
A master of acoustic Folk/Blues, Chris Smither creates a singular guitar sound – a beat-driven finger-picking, layered over his rhythmic, tapping feet (always mic’d in performance). A lifelong devotee of Bluegrass, Tim O’Brien is skilled on guitar, mandolin, fiddle and banjo. He often performs with his wife, vocalist Jan Fabricius.
Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
WED, OCT 26 at 7:30PM
Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, “the king and queen of the banjo” (Paste magazine), have a musical partnership like no other. Béla is a fifteen-time Grammy winner who has taken the instrument across multiple genres. Abigail is a singer-songwriter and clawhammer banjo player.
WED, NOV 9 at 7:30PM
Darlingside has long been praised for their mesmerizing harmonies and wistful songwriting, described by NPR as “exquisitely-arranged, literary-minded, baroque Folk-Pop,” and compared to Crosby, Stills and Nash; Simon & Garfunkel; and The Byrds.
Paula Cole and Sophie B. Hawkins
THU, NOV 10 at 7:30PM
Carried by her radiant voice, Grammy winner Paula Cole has a musical catalog defined by honest lyrics that covers Blues, Jazz, Folk, Pop, Gospel and Americana. Multi-instrumentalist Sophie B. Hawkins has been tugging at heartstrings for decades with her captivating storytelling. Both are known for their indelible 90s hits—Cole’s “I Don’t Want to Wait” and Hawkins’ “As I Lay Me Down.”
An Evening with Josh Ritter
THU, NOV 17 at 7:30PM
With an expressive voice, keen wit and evocative way with words, Folk-Rock artist Josh Ritter has been described as “harking back to Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and maybe a little Mark Knopfler” (The New York Times) and named one of the “100 Greatest Living Songwriters” by Paste magazine.
SAT, DEC 3 at 8PM
Martin Sexton’s spirited songs run the American musical gamut, incorporating Soul, Country and Blues. The guitarist has been praised for “his unpretentious heartiness” (The New York Times) and his “soul-marinated voice” (Rolling Stone).
Ryan Hamilton, Maria Bamford, Kevin Nealon and Paul Reiser
FRI, SEP 9 at 8PM
The wholesome, Idaho-bred comic’s Netflix special, Happy Face, was called “the special you can’t watch enough times.”
SUN, SEP 11 at 7:30PM
Comedian Maria Bamford is revered for her deeply personal comedy about mental illness as well as her dead-on impressions. Stephen Colbert called her his “favorite comedian on earth” and Judd Apatow said she is “the funniest woman in the world.”
SUN, OCT 2 at 7:30PM
Emmy- and SAG-nominated comedian Kevin Nealon is one of the longest running cast members on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. He’s also a critically acclaimed actor known for his roles in the Showtime series Weeds and several films by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions.
SUN, OCT 9 at 7:30PM
This comedian, actor and television writer can currently be seen in Stranger Things and The Kominsky Method, for which he received an Emmy nomination. He also recently revived one of his most iconic roles in the return of Mad About You, the long-running hit 90s comedy he co-created and starred in with Helen Hunt.
Laughs in the Loft
Hosted by Joe Larson
FIRST WEDNESDAY OF EVERY MONTH AT 7:30PM
Join us for Laughs in the Loft, a monthly series featuring stand-up comics from our own backyard, Brooklyn and beyond! Each Laughs in the Loft event features several comedians in a New York City-style showcase. The talent is announced approximately two weeks prior to each show.
Judy Collins and Hot Sardines
Hot Sardines Holiday Stomp
THU, DEC 1 at 7:30PM
Experience a raucous, razzle dazzle celebration featuring classic Jazz and Swing holiday favorites and original tunes performed by the eight-piece band. Their brassy horn arrangements and rollicking piano melodies combined with the vocals from a chanteuse will transport listeners to a past era.
Holiday & Hits Show
FRI, DEC 2 at 8PM
Celebrate Christmas with Judy Collins! The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter known for her poetic storytelling style will perform holiday classics, songs from her latest album, Spellbound, and beloved songs culled from her six-decade career.
A Rockapella Holiday
A Legendary Tradition
FRI, DEC 9 at 8PM
Add extra flair to this festive time of year with the energetic all-vocal magic of Rockapella. Clap along to catchy original Pop songs and contemporary revisions of Motown and Soul classics.
Cherish the Ladies
A Celtic Christmas
SUN, DEC 11 at 7:30PM
This all-female collective captivates audiences and embodies the splendor of the Christmas season with their majestic vocals and stunning step-dancing.
Sweet Honey in the Rock
SAT, DEC 17 at 8PM
Sweet Honey in the Rock is an internationally renowned Grammy-nominated a cappella ensemble with a nearly 50-year history of serving as musical missionaries for equality, empowerment and education
The Hanukkah Show
WED, DEC 21 at 7:30PM
Boundary-pushing group Nefesh Mountain combines elements of Americana, Appalachian Bluegrass, Celtic Folk and Eastern European melodies with messages of inclusivity, diversity and hope.
Jim Messina and Naturally 7
An Evening with Jim Messina
THU, NOV 3 at 7:30PM
Jim Messina’s legacy of making hit music spans five decades, three super groups (Buffalo Springfield, Poco, Loggins and Messina), a vibrant solo career and scores of producing and engineering credits.
The Last Waltz Celebration
featuring the THE BAND Band with TTBB Horns & Special Guests
SAT, NOV 12 at 8PM
Relive the Last Waltz, the famous 1976 Thanksgiving concert that has become embedded in the Rock and Roll lexicon. Hear Eric Clapton’s “Further On Up the Road,” Ronnie Hawkins’ “Who Do You Love,” Van Morrison’s “Caravan” and many more of the songs from that special night.
Sons of Serendip
WED, DEC 7 at 7:30PM
Skilled on the harp, cello and piano, this quartet of lifelong instrumentalists and vocalists brings a harmonious synergy to the stage. Melding Classical and Pop, Sons of Serendip has collaborated with several orchestras and opened for John Legend.
Ann Hampton Callaway & Liz Callaway
Broadway the Calla-way!
SAT, DEC 10 at 8PM
The Tony-nominated Callaway sisters are one singular sensation in their new show “Broadway the Calla-way!” They’ll sing showstoppers from West Side Story, Chicago, Funny Girl, Cats, Carousel, Wicked and more Broadway musicals.
SUN, MAR 5 at 7:30PM
Naturally 7 is more than a collection of great a capella singers—it’s magic! They transform their voices into human instruments, effortlessly producing music of any genre. Their “vocal play” has redefined what is possible with the human voice.
Red Hot Chilli Pipers
TUE, MAR 14 at 7:30PM
The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are an award-winning bagpipe-led ensemble featuring some of the best pianists, guitarists, drummers and overall musicians in Scotland, with an infectious style of feel-good music.
The Heart & Soul of Magic and The Great DuBois
Comedy With a Drip! Featuring Casey Carle, Comic Bubble Artist
SUN, NOV 20 at 1PM
Comic bubble artist Casey Carle brings us his amazing one-man show combining spontaneous comedy, jazzy music and, of course, brilliant bubbling!
The Heart & Soul of Magic
No Smoke, No Mirrors Tour featuring Ran’D Shine and Jamahl Keyes
SAT, FEB 11 at 1PM
Breathtaking! Mind-blowing! Astonishing! This show features two world-class magicians in a unique production that weaves a tapestry of psychological illusions, comedy and music to create an immersive experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Stone Soup and Other Stories
SAT, MAR 11 at 1PM
Highlighting the spirit and customs of different cultures, this familiar brew of favorite stories from Africa, India, Eastern Europe and America is filled with music, color, fantasy and fun!
The Great DuBois: Masters of Variety
The World’s Most Unique 2-Person Circus Show!
SUN, APR 2 at 1PM
The Great DuBois: Masters of Variety is a fast-paced, high-energy circus show for all ages showcasing incredible feats of juggling, hula hoops, unicycle, circus stunts, contortion, magic and audience interaction all wrapped up in a blanket of comedy.
The Jungle Book
SAT, MAY 6 at 1PM
Join young Mowgli as he learns the laws of the jungle with the help of friends like Bagheera and Baloo. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s time-honored adventure, this tale will delight the young and the young at heart!